Foresight Glasses— Immersing in 6 VR Futures

A VR experience to explore the values of six futures for Germany.
22 May 2022
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
In Collaboration With
Worldbuilding, Narrative Design, Creative Writing, Design Concepts, 3D modeling, Software Development, Visual Design, Sound Design
JAN 2021 — MAY 2022
Berlin, DE

Did she really say that? Oh yes, she did, but in a different future. You may agree that our values depend on the world we live in. And when the world changes, values change too, and vice versa. 

The VR expe­ri­ence 'FORE:sight Glass­es' is the result of our col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research (BMBF) in the project VORAUS:schau! Based on the sce­nario study 'The Future of Val­ues held by Peo­ple in our Coun­try,' we devel­oped per­son­al sto­ries, spec­u­la­tive places, objects, and con­texts for six futures that can be explored in an inter­ac­tive VR expe­ri­ence. Such sce­nario stud­ies com­bine dri­vers of change and pos­si­ble devel­op­ments to cre­ate futures that should inform the present's strate­gic deci­sion-mak­ing. But what do these futures look like, how do they feel, are they prefer­able, and why? Only by answer­ing these ques­tions, they can become land­marks to head for, or avoid. For this rea­son, we shape empath­ic futures by mak­ing them local, per­son­al, and relatable.

The Futures Swap

The VR expe­ri­ence shows six dif­fer­ent futures: The Euro­pean Way, Com­pe­ti­tion Mode, Return of the Blocs, Mul­ti-Speed Soci­ety, Bonus Sys­tem, and Eco­log­i­cal Region­al­iza­tion, each dri­ven by dif­fer­ent val­ues and nar­ra­tives. Our task was to com­mu­ni­cate them, but we thought it was essen­tial to encour­age peo­ple to think about the rea­sons for them, about the mech­a­nisms that are going on in the back­ground. So we want­ed to make the futures com­pa­ra­ble. What do sim­i­lar objects look like in dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios? And what does their design say about the pre­vail­ing cul­ture or the mate­ri­als used about pro­duc­tion par­a­digms and the avail­abil­i­ty of raw mate­ri­als? As you com­pare the con­crete mate­ri­al­iza­tion of things, you look behind their sur­face. That's why you can swap futures at any time in the VR experience.

Private and Public

Each of the futures is rep­re­sent­ed by two vir­tu­al spaces. One is a pri­vate envi­ron­ment, usu­al­ly a home. The oth­er is a pub­lic envi­ron­ment — a busi­ness, a learn­ing com­mu­ni­ty, or a game space. One is more about indi­vid­ual every­day life, the oth­er about society. 

The Scenarios

The European Way

You are a sci­en­tist and just migrat­ed to the EU as part of 'Tal­ent New,' a new tal­ent pro­gram. The EU is strong, proud of its val­ues, and arro­gant towards the rest of the world.

Competition Mode

You are an entre­pre­neur and life­long learn­er. Soci­ety is com­pet­i­tive and unfor­giv­ing. The suc­cess­ful pros­per while oth­ers are left behind.

Return of the Blocs

You are part of the hack­ing elite. The soci­ety is revi­sion­ist, patri­ot­ic, and iso­la­tion­ist, the econ­o­my is almost dis­con­nect­ed from non-Euro­pean coun­tries, and the tech­nol­o­gy is unsta­ble and of a low standard.

Multi-Speed Society

You are a casu­al work­er and gamer. Soci­ety is divid­ed into suc­cess­ful cen­ters and left-behind periph­eries, while vir­tu­al real­i­ty offers opi­um for the masses.

Bonus System

You are a good cit­i­zen. Almost every­one is these days. You earn bonus points for your good deeds and live the good life. Soci­ety relies on a demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly nego­ti­at­ed, dig­i­tal bonus sys­tem. Peo­ple have to be per­fect. Oth­er­wise, they will be social­ly dis­con­nect­ed, which is hard­ly reversible. 

Ecological Regionalization

You are every­thing that's need­ed in a small com­mu­ni­ty. At last, the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis is being addressed, and peo­ple live sus­tain­able lives in sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties. But the, social con­trol can be overwhelming.